1st November marked the start of the British leek-growing season and as the leek is a national symbol for Wales, I chose to mark the occasion by trying out a a new leek-based recipe.
The British Leek Growers Association’s website offers an abundance of leek recipes, including several created by Masterchef 2013 finalist, Larkin Cen (who now co-owns a popular Asian takeaway and pop-up restaurant in Cardiff, Hokkei) and food blogger and chef, Dominic Franks of BelleauKitchen.com.
In addition, I was very pleased to find a selection of Welsh leek recipes and I eventually decided upon the leek-braised mutton with creamy leek and mint sauce, substituting the mutton with lamb because it was easier to get hold of.
I was really pleased with how the dish turned out; the leek sauce was smooth and creamy with just a subtle mint flavour, while the cinnamon, cloves and orange that the lamb was braised in gave the meat a warming, festive flavour. I served the lamb and sauce with crispy roast potatoes and fresh veg, like a roast dinner with a twist! It certainly went down well in my house, with clean plates all round.
Leek-braised lamb with creamy leek and mint sauce
For the braised lamb
- 1 leg of lamb approx. 3kg
- 20 garlic cloves
- 2 leeks washed, trimmed and cut into four large chunks
- 1 orange quartered
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 carrot halved
- sea salt and black pepper freshly ground
For the sauce
- 300 ml braising juices skimmed of fat
- 1 litre full cream milk
- 75 g 75g/3oz butter
- 75 g 75g/3oz plain flour
- 8 8 fresh mint leaves roughly chopped
- freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
- - 6 leeks washed, trimmed and cut into 2cm-wide slices
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C Fan/375°F/Gas Mark 5.
Make 20 regularly spaced small slits in the skin of the lamb and insert the cloves. Weigh the joint and calculate the cooking time according to the pack instructions. Place lamb in a deep roasting pan.
Surround the lamb with all the braising ingredients and pour boiling water to come half way up the side of the meat. Place a piece of wet baking paper over the meat and braising ingredients and cover with foil. Oven braise, adding more water if required.
Once cooked, remove from the oven and set aside 300ml/ ½pt of the braising juice for the sauce, skimming off the fat beforehand. Allow the meat to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes before carving into thin slices.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Simmer the prepared leeks for 3-4 minutes, until just tender. Drain.
Melt the butter and stir in the flour. Gradually add the reserved braising juices and milk, stirring continuously over a gentle heat until the sauce is simmering. Season and stir in the mint and leeks until combined.
Pour the sauce over the carved mutton slices and accompany with crispy roast potatoes and any veg of your choice - I used tender stem broccoli and this worked quite well - we even had a little bit of sage and onion stuffing on the side!
Tip: try using a scoring knife to cut the slits into the skin of the lamb before placing the cloves in; a standard knife isn't always sharp enough for this.
This post was written in collaboration by British Leek Growers Association and The Rare Welsh Bit.